Taking the Plunge (Or, Entering Writing Competitions)

I wrote a while back about the Writer Fear, that stops you from being able to share your babies with others. Because of this, and despite the fact I’ve been writing for 15 years now, I’ve never entered any contests or submitted any short stories anywhere.

A lot of that was a pretty fair assumption that my writing wasn’t ready for that sort of scrutiny. I would say I’ve only really been comfortable with my style for the last 3 years or so. Everything before that has been honing and practise and experimentation, and I think now, I’m probably in my writing prime.

That isn’t arrogance. That’s an understanding of the fact that writing is a craft and a skill you have to practise. I’m definitely not saying my writing is perfect, because it ain’t, but I’m in a position where I’m more critical of myself and I don’t take it personally as much anymore.

With that being said, this year I’ve submitted twice. One is a short story contest, where I might win something; the other is a magazine.

I don’t feel stressed.

That’s new for me. Before any sort of exposure, even at my own reading, I was shaking head to foot, feeling sick, on the verge of tears. None of that. I read the requirements and sent the stories.

Both of the stories I sent I wrote years ago. That’s probably part of it. I have no emotional attachment to those stories, not in the same way I do with my novels. You spend a longer time with the characters in novels, and you form a connection to those places and people. Short stories, not so much.

It’s a little step, but it was a necessary one. My husband is always baffled by the thought that I have so much writing on my harddrive and nobody’s ever read it. He himself has only read one thing I’ve ever written. It’s about putting yourself out there in a way you’re not used to.

If I get rejected (and I probably will), it’s no big loss. I’ve proved to myself that I can do it.


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